New York City Dreams
In the city of dreams, must all of our dreams have the same trajectory? In this tough world of artistry and politics, can one small city be the key to unlock all of our aspirations? Can one build a home in the crook of so many others and find his own way, when so many have gotten lost in the hustle and bustle, never to achieve the success they once dreamed of?
These questions weigh on me heavily at least once a week. This journey of being an actor in New York City, though a childhood dream of mine, came upon me quite unexpectedly. I thought the lights were something I had to see, the lullaby something I had to sing, the journey a leap I had to make. But how was I to get there? How was I to attain these hopes? And was it worth it to abandon the beginnings of a career I had already established?
When I was presented with quite the opportunity to be a part time bohemian for a few months and make the great leap across the land to Harlem, I jumped like a carp and made my way. This chance answered the “how” of my queries. I would now be in New York. For some reason, I thought that was the biggest obstacle of the journey. Little did I know that starting from scratch would be more terrifying than pleasurable. I was now an unknown in a city of unknowns, a fresh face with no map to follow, no circle of friends to guide the way. The path that lied ahead was daunting and each step should have been taken gingerly. Instead, I rammed ahead like a bull seeing red. I crashed equity auditions, waiting calmly with a book in my hand, and after a few hours I was sent home without a hello. I sent out headshots and résumés through the mail without much response. I hoped to land on my feet with the aid of luck, as opposed to perseverance and fortified, steadfast effort.
When I finally did land parts, the experiences flew by like a breeze and were spread out so drastically that I thought I had imagined them. How could one sustain happiness with such “blink and they’re gone” adventures? I knew that this was something I wanted, but it was becoming very clear that my method of attack was flawed. Not only that, but I was starting to feel a sense of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was lost, to say the least. As my hopes were slowly diminishing, swimming among the attempts and adventures of so many before me, all those questions started to weigh me down.
It took a discussion with a friend to bring me back to reality. New York beckons to us like the sirens of Odysseus, but not everyone can trump the odds to rise above the torment. This does not equate to failure. The world around us is attainable from vantage points other than this illustrious concrete jungle. That idiom of making it here leading to making it everywhere does not always lie true. That conversation helped me to rediscover my hope. Things were not being presented to me on a silver platter and that was just fine. There was plenty of time to accomplish the goals I set out for myself, and if in the end I couldn’t accomplish them here, there were other places to do so.
My previous time doing theater in Chicago became a comfort to me. Though I hadn’t stayed and become the talk of the town, I had successes. I had memories and experiences that I could have never dreamed up. I worked and did so with regularity. Those were things I could be thankful for. And if I did not get to that point in the near future in New York, I could breathe knowing that it was a possibility in a place not so far away. Why was I beating myself up as I heard the travails of other people? Their experiences were not mine to have. I should not be crying over so-and-so’s booking of a tour, giving a ‘woe is me’ performance for one. I should be encouraged to work harder and bolster my efforts, as well as be happy that a colleague was on the right path. Thanks to that friendly conversation, I realized as much.
New York may be the stuff dreams are made of, but just as dreams come in many shapes and sizes, so do the places to make them true. I learned that I had no reason to fret, and all the more to be patient and present. Though this adventure was not everything I had fantasized, it was still an adventure and nowhere near over. I might not break into the big leagues in the end, but I can still look back and say I did my part. For that I am grateful.